Mickey Mouse is chilling at his house when Oswald the Rabbit appears on his television to let him know that Minnie and other toons are in danger. The evil witch, Mizrabel, has locked them away in her Castle of Illusion. Mickey rushes out to save Minnie and grabs the magical paintbrush along the way. Like the original Epic Mickey, you can use paint or thinner on your enemies for different results. The similarities end there.
Power of Illusion is a platform style game where you can paint, jump, or whirlwind your foes out of existence. I find that when I paint enemies they tend to drop life hearts, whereas they drop money when I use thinner instead. Other than clearing out enemies, your goal is to locate and rescue trapped toons. They are usually well hidden and off the beaten path. When you do rescue someone, they are sent to a safe part of the castle called the fortress. Once in the fortress, they will be in their themed room where you can interact with them. Talking to the toons will often result in getting a side quest. By upgrading their rooms you are opening up even more quest opportunities. Not only can you earn money by completing quests, but you can get paint, inventory, and health upgrades.
A few of the quests can be easily fulfilled by simply painting an object into existence. More often than not, you’ll have to repeat a level to find a specific treasure or character. To complete every side quest, you can anticipate replaying the same levels four or five times over. Repetition and lack of levels are this game’s biggest downfalls. There are only three areas with roughly six levels in each one. That’s it.
The castle sections have different movie themes but the characters trapped within come from various Disney movies and cartoons. The first section is themed from the Peter Pan movie and you get to rescue Wendy and her brother Michael Darling, Goofy, Beast, and Scrooge McDuck.
Your first couple of quests involve helping Scrooge McDuck set up a shop. You’ll have to find his lucky dime and get some wood from Beast to build a sign. Once the shop is complete you can buy life, damage, and paint upgrades. You’ll even get a free upgrade for your troubles.
As a female gamer, I was a little disappointed with the stereotypical side quests given by many of the princesses in the fortress. Wendy requested that I locate a needle and thread, Cinderella needed some cloth (she even mended Mickey’s shorts for him), Snow White wanted a broom, Rapunzel a frying pan, and Tiana needed a cook book. I always wondered why princesses (Peach) were often kidnapped and I think I figured it out. Only a princess would enjoy cooking, cleaning, and sewing in confinement.
As you can see there is a wide variety in cast and quests. As you rescue more toons, you’ll unlock new sections of the castle. Once all of the levels in a section are cleared, a boss’ room will appear. There are only three bosses in this game and that’s including the last boss Mizrabel. After the last boss is cleared, you can go back and complete any incomplete quests or rescues. While only a certain number of rescues is required to unlock all of the sections of the castle, missed opportunities can cost you some important upgrades like inventory space.
Sketching is a key component to Power of Illusion and separates it from most platformers out there. You can unlock sketches and inventory spaces to hold them, allowing you to bring them with you at the start of each level. My favorite sketch ability was drawing platforms to help me reach otherwise inaccessible areas. Honorable mentions go to the invincibility and (limited) flying sketches. The only limitation to using sketches is making sure that you have enough paint. This is why paint storage and efficiency upgrades are handy.
Besides sketching, and eliminating enemies, you can use your paint to add or remove specific items in levels. It doesn’t work on everything, but the options available sure do come in handy. For example, you can thin out and remove cannons and smasher blocks. In the Little Mermaid’s water levels, you can draw in tridents and shoot paint though it to strike enemies from above or below. Besides objects, in certain areas you can draw characters like Ariel, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and Aladdin to assist you. They won’t fight by your side, but they will clear out a few enemies or obstacles for you.
You don’t have to be an artist to play this game. Sketching simply involves tracing various letters or shapes. The better you do, the higher quality objects you produce. If you do a sloppy job, you’ll have to try again and lose paint from your previous attempt.
Graphically this game does pretty well. The 3D effects look nice, but I often had to disable them since my kids like to watch me play. The characters look as they should and the worlds are colorful and look just like the movies they represent. During conversations, Mickey’s facial expressions and gestures change to portray his mood.
There’s not much voice acting, but you will hear some short clips from the characters. Most of the text has to be read, and it sometimes progresses a little too quickly for my tastes. The background music consists of melodies from the movies representing the world you’re in.
While this game has a lot of polish, the biggest downfall is its lack of content and repetitiveness. The last levels were challenging and a pain to complete the first time around. I had no interest in replaying them another three or four times to gather all of the side quest items. I put in fifteen hours before beating it. If you don’t care about completing every quest, you can finish this game in less than ten hours. That’s not much game time for a $40 title. There is a demo available, and it certainly is worth looking into. I would recommend waiting for a sale before picking this game up.